Two separate reports reflect on participation in tertiary level education among students with a VET background. Guidance is considered a key factor in improving participation rates.
A new report from the Danish Institute of Governmental Research (AKF) states that just 3% of young people with IVET qualificationsenter a short-cycle higher education programme, despite the fact that IVET students constitute a primary target group for these programmes. The report indicates that lack of knowledge and awareness regarding educational opportunitiesamong IVET students is a key barrier.
These findings are supported by another recent report compiled by researchers at Roskilde University. The report maps access routes from IVET to higher education. In many cases, IVET students have families without immediate experience of higher education. It is therefore vital that they are made aware of their opportunities during their training period, with guidance playing a key role. Particular attention should be paid to addressing IVET students’ concerns regarding the financial implications of entering higher education, and their frequently exaggerated notions of insurmountable academic demands.
Moreover, the report shows that IVET students may first decide to enter higher education long after completing their initial training. It is therefore crucial that guidance is easily accessible outside VET colleges. A more proactive outreach programme is recommended, particularly within areas threatened by high unemployment or where participation in higher education is especially low.
A high degree of variation in participation rates between the different vocational sectors is one of the findings in the report from the AKF. In the field of technology and communication, training e.g. electricians and IT support staff, 7.4% enrol in short-cycle higher education within five years of completing IVET. In the field of mechanics, transport and logistics, including e.g. drivers, mechanics and warehouse staff, this figure is just 1%.
In order to improve participation rates in higher education among IVET students, the report from the AKF makes a number of recommendations including:
- improving IVET’s image among pupils in lower secondary education by increasing awareness of opportunities for further education with IVET qualifications;
- encourage more IVET students to take advanced level courses as part of their training and introduce formalised introduction programmes upgrading the qualification levels of IVET students to meet the requirements within higher education;
- offer guidance to IVET students regarding educational opportunities that informs, challenges and motivates;
- improve cooperation between VET colleges and academies of professional higher education;
- consider the need for new programmes and for revisionof existing entrance requirements; and
- address financial barriers via greater flexibility, e.g. improving the opportunities for part-time study.